A woman who lost consciousness and spent the night in intensive care after a suspected drink-spiking incident at a Crowded House concert is warning others to keep an eye on their beverages.
Kelly Steele, 42, was set to enjoy a relaxed night at the Kiwi band's Bowl of Brooklands concert in New Plymouth. Instead, the mum-of-four had blacked out by the end of the second song and was rushed to hospital unconscious before the concert's end.
Steele cannot remember being overly energetic and more animated than usual at the concert last Saturday.
She doesn't remember having that energy drain from her body, slumping down and becoming unresponsive.
She doesn't remember her worried husband and sister trying to talk to her and dragging her over to an on-site ambulance, thinking she might have had a stroke.
"I have no recollection after the second song but my husband said I was over-excited and more animated than usual," Steele said.
"I went from being really into it to slumping over, looking through people when they were talking to me, and then being unresponsive."
Steele's family were concerned about her actions but knew she needed urgent medical attention when she lost consciousness.
"My brother-in-law thought I had a stroke, so they carried me to the ambulance."
Paramedics on the scene told Steele's worried family she "was on drugs" and wanted to know what she had taken.
"They said I hadn't taken anything but the paramedics were insistent and said my eyes were like saucers."
Steele was "going in and out of consciousness" and was rushed to the emergency department unconscious and was then transferred to intensive care.
She was put on a drip, had a CT scan, x-rays and was fitted with a catheter.
"I was there, unaware of anything, for 11 hours. My family were so worried and my daughters woke up to hear their mum was in hospital and unconscious."
Doctors told her it was difficult to confirm drink spiking because specific tests were needed and were often inconclusive because the drugs used were not in their pure form.
Steele said she has no doubt her drink was spiked at some stage during the concert and said there were at least three opportunities she could think of.
The first opportunity was before the drinks were even paid for.
"We went to the beer tent and ordered two drinks each but when we ordered there was already a tray of opened cans on the counter," Steele said.
"Then when I paid for the drinks I turned my body away from the drinks and was using the Eftpos machine so there was another time my eyes were off the drinks."
The third opportunity was when the sisters sat down and a woman they didn't know approached them and was chatting away "in a very animated way".
"We thought she was on something because she was very animated, we didn't notice at the time but she had her hands near our drinks."
Steele said she didn't know the intent behind her drink being spiked but said she felt lucky to be at the concert with people who were looking out for her.
"I can't imagine if this had happened to someone who was there alone or not with people they knew."
Steele has lodged a complaint with police and has plans to contact the New Plymouth District Council to check the policies around liquor licensing for events.
Police confirmed they were investigating the incident.
"Police have received a report of a drink spiked at the Crowded House concert in New Plymouth and investigations are continuing," a police spokesman said.
A bartender at the event said cans were pre-opened in bulk to help with the flow of service during peak times.
It is also a legal requirement for drinks to be opened at the time of service, and lids removed, so unopened drinks cannot be used as missiles later.
"I would like to see changes made to the process so drinks have to be opened in front of the customer and not before," Steele said.
"I think licensing policies could be changed to reduce the risk of drink spiking."
Steele said the week since the incident had been hard. It took days for her head to clear and then feelings of shame and guilt had sunk in.
"I know it wasn't my fault but I felt ashamed and guilty about what happened. I know I shouldn't feel that way but it has been difficult."
Steele said the one positive was the messages of support she had from friends and family and others who had messaged her telling her they had been in similar situations.
She was grateful she was with people who could look after her when she wasn't able to look after herself.
"I just hope this is a reminder for people to keep an eye on their drinks, look after their friends and take action if they need to."